Once the preserve of professional plumbers and decorators, bathroom plumbing and decorating is now widely attempted by many DIY enthusiasts – especially in London, where DIY shops are plentiful and cowboy plumbers are commonplace. If you’re doing a spot of bathroom DIY, make sure you avoid these common mistakes:
Tiles are the most obvious part of your new bathroom as they cover the most surface area in the room.
1. Make sure the colour of the tiles is warm, but not dark. The last thing you want in a cold bathroom is cold-coloured tiles (such as bright white or aquamarine). At the same time, don’t go for dark brown or navy tiles, as this will make the room seem dingy – and watermarks tend to show up more clearly. Depending on your taste, you could try light, earthy colours like terracotta and beige; this will at least make your bathroom look warmer in the frosty winter months.
2. The quality of tiles can make or break a bathroom. Colours aside, make sure the tiles you get are fully waterproof; and just because the tile is polished, that doesn’t make it’s fully waterproof (porcelain is 99.5% waterproof, and marble less so). Also, floor tiles which have been filled and polished may look good new (and be economically priced), but they won’t look so good in a year or two after the filler has worn away to leave holes.
3. Great tiles require quality workmanship. If you’re laying tiles yourself, make sure you know how to lay tiles flat (especially floor tiles), as wonky tiles have a tendency to crack after they’ve been set – and even the most minor crack can lead to leakage. Always ensure that the surface for tiling is sound and clean. Do not tile over wallpaper, flaking paint, unsound or dirty surfaces. Make sure you use the right kind of grout; use unsanded grout for tile spaces more than 1/8th inch as sanded grout can shrink in big gaps and cause leaks – especially on shower tiles. Also, ensure you seal the shower tray or bath with silicone – but fill the bath with water before you seal it, otherwise a full bath will stretch the sealant which leads to leakages.
Bathroom plumbing is the most specialist task in any bathroom refurbishment project. Before attempting any DIY plumbing work, make sure you turn off the water at the mains or the valve supplying the outlet, and bear the following plumbing tips in mind. If you are unsure, call a professional London plumber for help!
4. Don’t plan for too many fixtures if there isn’t adequate pressure; plumbing in London is often affected by crowded residential properties – which can result in low water-mains pressure. And there’s nothing more annoying in a bathroom shower than weak pressure! Either use fewer fixtures in the bathroom (consider ditching the bidet and dual shower head) or route the pipes more directly from the boiler.
5. Don’t join mismatched pipes. Make sure the diameter of two joined pipes is exactly the same – and that the diameter meets regulations in your area. Another common DIY bathroom plumbing mistake is attaching copper pipe to galvanised pipe. This is a recipe for disaster; the copper pipe will quickly corrode and cause a leak. To join mismatched pipes together, remember to use the correct fitting between the two. Finally, remember to use plumber’s tape (aka Teflon tape) on threads. It’s an easy way to make sure the pipes don’t start to slowly leak over time – the biggest annoyance in bathroom plumbing.
Bathroom furniture and units
6. Wooden units look nice in a catalogue but some aren’t great in practice. No matter how good the quality of the wood used in a cabinet or vanity unit, it will soak up water in the air and swell until it distorts out of shape, possibly falling apart. It is best to choose a unit that is completely covered in plastic – including the edges. This will stop moisture being absorbed.
7. Think about the layout of units – not only in regards to the plumbing, but also the practicality of placement. If possible, don’t put the toilet directly next to the shower or bath (clean and dirty should be separate) and don’t put the toilet near the door (it can make those who use it feel self-conscious).
Bathroom plumbing is considered by many to be the most difficult of all home DIY projects – so don’t feel bad if you don’t complete your bathroom plumbing project hiccup-free; even experienced practitioners of DIY call in the professionals if they’re not comfortable with a particular aspect of bathroom plumbing.
Aspect Maintenance is a specialist London plumber offering a variety of property maintenance services.
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